This video is called Portrait of Lotte: A Dutch father films his daughter for fifteen seconds each week from her birth until she turns fourteen, and then condenses it into a four minute video where you get to see this girl (Lotte) grow from a cute little baby to a lovely young woman. It’s very sweet, kudos on the father for his planning and stick-to-it-iveness!

 

 

 

(All rights for the video belongs to ©2014 Frans Hofmeester.)

I am a big sci-fi fan, and usually enjoy whichever space sagas I watch. Star Wars, Star Trek, Mass Effect… Galaxy Quest… I enjoy most. Star Trek: The Next Generation is, according to many, perhaps the best in the Star Trek franchise, and I would agree. I really like Picard, and the show manages to balance the science fiction, the action, the humor, and the drama. That said, had I not known that TNG would get better later on, chances are I might not watch it past the first few episodes. The first reason really is quite weak, really cheesy and clichéed. As an example, one episode features a planet (called Angel One; very subtle) of extreme feminists and men who are meek and pitiful. I certainly appreciate the notion of making your stories into parables or stories of morality, and I enjoy doing so myself, it’s only really valuable if it’s not too on the nose. This time it felt like the episode might as well have been a lecture on feminism. It was also rather anti-feminist in that the ever-smarmy Commander Riker beds the leader of the planet and then afterwards kindly informs her about the silliness of her ways.

Another problem that plagued the first season, and to a lesser extent the rest of the show, was poor dialogue. Tidbits of morality and overt exposition battled for supremacy as the stilted dialogue did little to make you get to know the characters. These two things bother me; stuff like “It’s good we have eliminated [bad thing] by now” and “People back in the [whichever] century sure were [adjective]” are too overt, too obvious, and it makes me very aware that I’m watching a show from the eighties. Writing good dialogue is difficult, and something writers far better than I struggle with from time to time, but television has the tremendous advantage of having all its lines played out visually and audibly for scrutiny and subsequent changes; this makes errors in the department less forgivable. Also, bad exposition can be quite irritating; the whole “As you know”-thing really grates on my nerves. I bring up the CSI franchise as an excellent example of this, where the characters are constantly telling each other things they already know for the benefit of the viewers.

Because of these things, I’d probably classify the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation to be a guilty pleasure. The show would later go on to win awards and be highly acclaimed, but the first season is quite weak.

 

Aside from these things, here are my thoughts on some of the crew members:

 

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

My favorite Star Trek captain, the severe, solemn personality portrayed by the always wonderful Patrick Stewart is an austere, calm, and wise counterweight to William Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk. His personality can be both endearing and off-putting, which in a way makes it more endearing, and the negative aspects are quite nicely counterbalanced by the familiarity among the bridge crew. This is also why I hated the TNG movies, because Picard was reduced into a bad action character.

 

William Riker

I like Riker; he’s a good counterweight to Captain Picard. That said, in his own right he is not that great. One of the more annoying components of the show was that we, the viewers, were constantly told of his brilliance but didn’t get to see much of it. I always did enjoy the way he sits down, though; if you haven’t seen it, look for it.

 

Data

My favorite character on the show, by leaps and bounds, wonderfully portrayed by Brent Spiner. What could have been a really one-dimensional, grating character because probably the most endearing and interesting part of the show, almost managing to rival the iconic Spock.

 

Wesley Crusher

Ugh. Crusher was a cute kid and seems to have become a pretty awesome person, which remedies some of my dislike for the character, but it’s the same as always: child characters suck. Also, having the deus ex machina-like character always be using his genius to solve situation becomes really dull after fifteen or sixteen times.

 

Deanna Troi

What was the point of this character, besides showing off Marina Sirtis’ body in a tight outfit? To Sirtis’ defense the character was poorly written, but watching her acting in the more emotional scenes was almost painful. A character who oftentimes was pointless in that she constantly relayed information that could’ve been picked up by any regular person. Having an empath as a councilor could have been an exceptional advantage, but this wasn’t really utilized well.

 

Worf

I like Worf. It took the show some time to get him off the air, but he grew into a reliable and interesting character.

 

Geordi La Forge

Snooze. Don’t get me wrong, the character has its benefits and the friendship with Data is endearing, but La Forge has some of the awkward dialogue of the show.

 

Natasha Yar

Pointless. Felt shoe-horned in as a strong female character, but her role could have been easily filled by Worf (which it was later on).

 

All criticism aside, TNG is a nice bit of fun and later on grows into one of the finest science fiction series ever made.

The sixth series of The Apprentice (UK) contained some controversy early on: Before the series aired, it was reported that contestant Christopher Farrell was on bail for fraud, had been sacked from a previous mortgage company for misconduct and that in September 2009 he had admitted to two charges of possessing an offensive weapon. It was also reported that contestant Joanna Riley had been convicted for racially abusing three taxi drivers in October 2005 and it was also alleged that contestant Shibby Robati had received a formal warning from the General Medical Council for “unprofessional behaviour”.

The candidates were as follows:

Candidate Background Age
Alex Epstein Unemployed Head of Communications 26
Chris Bates Investment Banker 24
Christopher Farrell Mortgage Broker 28
Dan Harris Sales Director 34
Jamie Lester Overseas Property Developer 28
Joanna Riley Cleaning Company Owner 25
Joy Stefanicki Marketing Director 31
Laura Moore Business Development Manager 22
Liz Locke Investment Banker 24
Melissa Cohen Food Business Manager 27
Paloma Vivanco Senior Marketing Manager 30
Raleigh Addington Unemployed Graduate 22
Sandeesh Samra Recruitment Consultant 26
Shibby Robati Surgeon and Business Owner 26
Stella English Head of Business Management 30
Stuart Baggs Telecoms Entrepreneur 21

 

(Spoilers below)

 

Dan Harris was fired right off the bat after his dictatorial approach to managing, he immediately set a very macho tone. Raleigh jumped ship due to personal reasons (and I hope everything worked out for him). Outside of the top two contestants, who performed well, two other people really caught my eye; for very different reasons. Firstly, the absolutely mesmerizing Elizabeth “Liz” Locke, who reminded me of Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O in her style and grace, showed great salesmanship and skill. I was absolutely gob smacked when she was eliminated before several other, to my mind, weaker contestants. And then there is, of course, Stuart Baggs (the brand), the young, bullshitting quote-machine whose participation made him essentially unemployable. Legendary.

 

S6

One thing I’m getting really sick and tired of is this constant talk of stupidity, and waves upon waves of misanthropy. “People are stupid” and “I hate people” are dreadful statements to make if you aren’t making them in jest. Let me tell you why.

 

People are not stupid; depending upon your perspective the average person is one of these things:

- Average (compared to other people) <- This approach makes the most sense to me (Average = Average, tautalogies for the win)

- Really intelligent (compared to other primates)

- Really, really intelligent (compared to other mammals)

- Incredibly intelligent (compared to other chordates)

- Spectacularly intelligent (compared to all other forms of animal life)

You could also go so far as to compare to, say, a grain of sand or a patch of cabbages, but that might be stretching things.

 

People may be stupid based on your expectations, but all that says is that your expectations are wrong. The average person is, if you forgive my redundancy, average; nothing else. People may also be stupid based on your hopes and wishes, which doesn’t make any sense either; based on this logic, everyone could be called a blithering idiot if you wish everyone were forty-two times smarter than Stephen Hawking.

 

Also, this fad (at least I hope it’s a fad) of being proud of one’s social ineptitude is really weird to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite the homebody and there is no one whose company I am more comfortable in than my own. I only feel entirely relaxed when I am by my lonesome, and sometimes I feel like a fish out of water in any given social setting. To me, these are two separate concepts: the first part, being a homebody and a bit of a loner, is just a fact, a part of who I am. It’s neither good or bad, it’s just one of my facets. The other is, to me, a flaw: whenever I feel like I have an inability, be it permanent or temporary, big or small, it’s a flaw and something I work very hard on improving.

This weird glamorizing of social awkwardness and disdain for social settings is really peculiar to me, and I can only assume it’s something that is being perpetrated because of the internet and its appeal to recluses and social misfits. As much as I love recluses and social misfits, being one myself, it’s not something to be proud of and some people even seem to hail it as a superior way of living.

“OMG people are so stupid for going to clubs LOL bad music, people are, lyk, so conformist and I’m much too awesome so I’ll just sit at home and watch Netflix and look down on other people” is a dreadful way of looking at your fellow human beings. If you want to stay home and watch Netflix, stay home and watch Netflix. Don’t disparage those who choose differently just because you don’t share their inclinations. It’s like people who visit IMDb and head straight for the boards of movies and TV shows they hate just to spew their bile over the people who do enjoy it, all it does is create negativity and there is enough of that going around as it is. I’m not interested in embroidery, so I don’t do it. I’m not interested in the Twilight movies, so I don’t watch them. I’m not into the Goth scene, so I don’t go to Goth clubs. It really doesn’t have to be more difficult than that.

My favorite season of The Apprentice thus far, it had a lot of seemingly capable candidates and a few really interesting ones at that. The candidates were as follows:

 

Candidate Background Age
Anita Shah Business Strategist 35
Ben Clarke Trainee Stockbroker 22
Debra Barr Senior Sales Consultant 23
Howard Ebison Retail Business Manager 24
James McQuillan Senior Commercial Manager 32
Kate Walsh Licensing Development Manager 27
Kimberly Davis Marketing Consultant 33
Lorraine Tighe National Accounts Manager 36
Majid Nagra Business Development Manager 28
Mona Lewis Senior Financial Manager 28
Noorul Choudhury Science Teacher 33
Paula Jones Human Resources Consultant 29
Philip Taylor Estate Agent 29
Rocky Andrews Sandwich Chain Owner 21
Yasmina Siadatan Restaurateur 27

 

(Spoilers below)

 

A few contestants (Anita, Rocky, Majid, Kimberly, Noorul) left little impression on me but most were engaging or interesting. Fiery redhead Paula Jones was fired quite early on, which I thought was a shame, after she as a project manager blew it on costing when she and otherwise excellent candidate Yasmina Siadatan confused each other over essential oils to go in a perfume. Ben Clarke had a scholarship to Sandhurst. Lorraine had a great instinct, but was also quite annoying. Debra and Philip were both strong competitors but quite abrasive. Kate Walsh (and her smile) charmed most people, I think. Four women in the top four, a good record for women in business!

 

S5

A popular season of the Apprentice with many interesting contenders, this series was considerably less controversial than the preceding one. The candidates were as follows:

Candidate Background Age
Alex Wotherspoon Regional Sales Manager 24
Claire Young Senior Retail Buyer 28
Helene Speight Global Pricing Leader 32
Ian Stringer Software Sales Manager 26
Jennifer Maguire Marketing Consultant 27
Jenny Celerier Sales Manager 36
Kevin Shaw Bank Manager 24
Lee McQueen Recruitment Sales Manager 30
Lindi Mngaza Business Liaison Manager 22
Lucinda Ledgerwood Risk Manager 31
Michael Sophocles Telesales Executive 22
Nicholas de Lacy-Brown Trainee Barrister, Artist and Property Developer 23
Raef Bjayou Entrepreneur 27
Sara Dhada International Car Trader 25
Shazia Wahab Mosaic Artist and Company Director 35
Simon Smith Engineer 35

 

(Spoilers below)

Lucinda Ledgerwood was a charming contrast to most people on the show thus far, breaking the mold of business attire with her colorful outfits and berets, taking the soft approach to most situations. Claire was interesting to follow as I felt she grew quite a lot over the course of the season, and the suave Raef Bjayou was always entertaining. The funniest sequence of the series, however, came courtesy of Michael Sophocles whose application stated he was “a good Jewish boy”. Hilarity ensued when he then proved to not know what kosher was. My least favorite person this season was Jenny, who seemed to be a bit of a snake in the grass and who annoyed me quite a bit.

 

S4